Clues

Where have I been today? Let me give you a few clues.

Cherry-red tulips in a cerise-pink pot, leaning up against a turquoise cabinet.

It must be Nancy Nightingale’s garden!

Always a joy.

Sharp Shooter

Sometimes accompanying photos are meaningful, integral to the post, but sometimes they are incidental. It is tempting to invent a story about this picture of a fallen magnolia petal, how it represents the frivolous world, the glories of which are so easily cast aside, how its nibbled edges are a mirror to my own rough-edged soul and its dewy iridescence suggests a chance of redemption from the torment. But the truth is I wanted a chat and the photo needed using up.

On Friday I had “Le Jab”. As my “nothing is straightforward” life would dictate, the dedicated sharp shooter was not so sharp and a poor shooter. Her charm had been left at the door to hopefully be retrieved later. I am not here to judge, but after her attack my arm bled for longer than necessary and now sports a fine bruise. Maybe she saw the look on my face as I watched her mess up the previous victim. “Do you usually bleed when you have an injection” she accused . “No, but I expect it is my fault” I replied. “Correct” she barked. Scary posh women have been the bane of my life.

A sore arm, feeling a bit poorly and the further concreting of my fear of a certain kind of women, were all of course worth it. It is the way to go. Upwards and onwards. Ever upwards. And next time I am hoping for the someone who actually likes people.

Seriously, well done everyone who is working so hard to get us all vaccinated, to keep us safe, to set us on the road to hugs and reuniting with our loved ones. It must be tricky sometimes to keep a smile on your face. And I thank you. Even the grumpy gung ho ones.

One Last Time

As we will be leaving here soon enough, the sights and sounds of ‘combe are all the more poignant at present. Everything is potentially “the last time”. I have always loved drawing the curtains to see the survey boat in the harbour, with its undisclosed itinerary. And here it is again this evening, all lights and mystery. I wondered if there was much disappointment aboard, mourning a couple of solid land pints followed by a bag of chips and a battered sausage. Maybe they are too busy doing special secret stuff to worry about such fripperies. Still, it is a sight I relish and one that I will undoubtedly miss.

Sprung

Time is relative, apparently. To be honest, I am not sure I understand the intricacies of this statement. I nonchalantly fling these soundbites around with the bravado of a kinematic specialist. Which I am not. I am a gardener and I wing that most of the time. Except if you happen to be a present or potential client, to whom I confirm I am all knowing and glorious. What I do know is that spring has been a long time coming. Even longer than usual. Now that it has eventually arrived, it has proved to be everything I hoped for, perhaps even more. I would much appreciate it if the management could arrange a slowing down of time now. All the better for appreciating and even wallowing in the glory of this season of all seasons. Anyone know who I should write to?

Six on Saturday

I was all revved up for a Six a couple of weeks ago, in fact I had the photos lined up and scripts imagined. Then disaster struck and I had fisticuffs with my computer, which didn’t end well for me. We have since made friends (tentatively) and I am determined to join the throng this week. I considered using the same pre-trauma photos, but they were rather dull and I thought, perhaps that crotchety old computer knew best after all. Here are six brand-spanking new ones, which although not earth-shatteringly exciting, are hopefully not mind-numbingly boring. “What is she on about?” I hear the uninitiated wail. Well my lovelies, I’m talking about Six on Saturday, the “free to enter impossible to leave” meme hosted by our very own Games Master. Follow the link and all will be revealed, along with the exploits of many other participants, mostly wearing lycra. Shall we proceed?

First, we have a primrose, one that has featured in a previous blog. My thinking is that if I can’t remember what I said about it, you won’t either. This primula is growing between the stones of a wall in the back garden beds. It is not a colour that I would generally warm to. What would you call it? Anaemic pink with the saving grace of a butter yellow centre, perhaps? Still, in spite of myself, I love it.

Next, is the emerging leaf of a tortured hellebore. Last year I bought three Harvington hellebores and duly potted them up for planting out later. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the compost that I used for this and many other things last year. Some of you will know which one I am referring to. The poor plants struggled and gallantly held onto life. Last week I emptied each pot, carefully removing as much of the evil concoction from the roots as possible, and repotted using new compost. And look! This one is Double Lilac Speckled. I have great hopes.

This is more my kind of colour; no holds barred, in your face orange. Quite how this little viola has escaped the ravages of storm and snail is a mystery. Not that I’m complaining. Now is your time little violet!

Onto the challengingly named Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Moa’s Toes’ looking fabulous in the small sunny respite this afternoon. The new foliage is charmingly crimson (was that too horridly alliterative?). The cultivar name refers to the leaf’s similarity to the foot of the New Zealand Moa. Never having met such a bird (yet), I cannot confirm whether this is indeed true. But I think a couple of my SoS pals might know the answer.

It is tricky to explain why certain plants make your heart skip a beat, and I certainly don’t have the words, but this is one that gets my pulse racing to unnecessary rates. Here we have the almost open flower of Fritallaria meleagris, the snakes head fritillary. This is not a rare plant, easy enough to grow and widely available, but for me has an element of mystique and intrigue that is beguiling. It is also vulnerable to mollusc munching, so appreciate it whilst you can.

“Tarquin!” I exclaimed in horror “there seems to be an olive languishing in the front garden, do you have any idea how it might have got there?”. Without raising his head from the joys of Cave Diving for Beginners he said “Probably dropped by a passing seagull”. To be honest, your guess is as good as mine.

Take care my friends, until the next time!

Archive

Today I potted up my over-wintered dahlias, with only two “no labels” amongst them. We must rejoice over such small mercies. Now we wait.

As a pot of compost is not the most exciting image, even for you visionaries, I have dipped into my archive. Archive/marchive, I took this picture yesterday. This is Amaryillis ‘Red Dragon’, a gift from Lady Mantle. I was worried for its well being when the label said “keep at 21C”. Our house has rarely reached such heady heights. Still, it has proved the label wrong. Every move of this scarlet wonder has been a joy.

My Day

It began with a shining sun; I saw Nancy Nightingale and Scooby the giant puppy for the first time since before Christmas (although no physical gardening, just pointing and planning); I went to a garden centre and didn’t buy a single plant although I did admire a few (honest guv); I bought a dozen of North Devon’s finest eggs; I went for a walk with my beloved and admired the catkins and blue sky, from afar we chatted with smiling friends and strangers alike; I discovered two baby slugs, as bold as you like, in my little greenhouse, they have been evicited with no notice; I gladly waved goodbye to our old oak bureau, on its way to a new home; I ate chilli and jacket spuds and soon there will be a couple of squares of sea salt dark chocolate to dunk into my cup of tea.

I can’t complain about my day, not this time anyway.

Six on Saturday – All The Fun of the Fair

Outside the wind is shrieking like the waltzers and I’m fed up of spinning now. It has been a week of sadness and some pain. A dear friend died, leaving another dear friend broken hearted. And I have hurt my back. It is obvious which is the most important. I wonder if I will ever learn that somethings can’t be fixed by force, but only by time. I suspect I will keep trying.

An addiction to Six on Saturday is a sometime blessing and occasional curse, but for your delectation I struggled outside into the demon fairground to take some shots. For those of you unacquainted with SoS, and question what could inspire such noble devotion, nip over and introduce yourself to the legend that is The Propagator. You will not only uncover the intricacies of this cult but also those of his many sycophants. Chop, chop, let’s shake a leg!

First, we have a hellebore that was so desperate to be photographed it held its head uncharacteristically high, meaning no bending was necessary for the photograph. After all that effort, it would be contrary to resist. My aching back thanks its thoughtfulness.

Next, stripy crocus, shaming the under-performing violas they co-habit with. I am not surprised about the violas’ frankly disappointing show, the exact same happens every year and every year I despair. And then, just before I am poised to replace them, my trowel in vengeance mode, they go on hyper-drive and become irresistible. Each year I am fooled. There is nothing to suggest that this will not be repeated ad infinitum.

Less of the seasonal, onto the misguided. Here we have Lavandula pinnata, which has been popping out the odd flower since autumn. Respect.

Now we have a grumpy lion, a bench-end valiantly holding together a rickety seat. I am a Leo and sometimes a grumpy lion. It is all about empathy. A bench is good place to start.

Earlier in the week I started the rose pruning, perhaps a little late as they have already sprung into action. When I say “start” it is not because I am the proud owner of acreage of floribunda, but because there is a climbing rose that needs some serious reformative pruning. The green bin is now full, and my hands pin cushions, despite protective gloves. It was time for a break. This is Rosa ‘Peace’, as identified by SoSers, and is rather further forward than the others. This little shoot had a reprieve, to keep up the good work.

Whilst pruning, during several diversions, I investigated whether Molly the Witch had begun her journey. I ripped away the surrounding mass of damp crocosmia foliage, like some horti archaeologist, and low and behold there she was, Paeonia mlokosewkitschii (not an anagram). Perhaps a flower this year?

All done, six in the bag. Hope all is well on your planets. ‘Til next time.

All Things Come to Those Who Wait

Buying new plants is out of the question. We will be moving in the next few months and it would be beyond foolish to add to the already ridiculous number of pots that are lurking in the garden. Let me reiterate: beyond foolish.

I have been lusting over Lilium ‘Forever Susan’ for some time. I clearly remember the first time I was entranced by her loveliness. I was at my Mum’s and we were watching the TV, me lounging on the sofa, her with her feet up in her bionic chair. More than likely we had a cup of tea and perhaps a jammie dodger. Sadly, it has been a while since I have watched Monty with my Mum. Let me make it clear, I’m not talking about a programme called “Monty with My Mum”, although I am sure it would be very entertaining. What I mean is, I was watching Gardeners’ World whilst I was at Peggy’s house. Hopefully I have averted the potential disaster of disappointed souls desperately scanning for back episodes on iPlayer. Back to the lily in question. As I was too comfy/lazy to get up and grab a pen and paper, I convinced myself I would remember the name. Luckily Peggy knows me better and scribbled the name on the back of her Handgliding Weekly. From that moment onwards I have been poised to attack, on high level lily alert.

Unfortunately, there was the tawdry incident when I got over-excited and bought ‘Forever Linda’ by mistake and have ever since been trying to reconcile the fact. Linda is a lovely lass, but Susan was my first love. Still she evaded my clutches.

Today, in search of Babybel and avocados, I wandered into our local discount supermarket, the one that rhymes with idyll. Even before I got to the hand-sanitiser I spotted her, nestled in a box of other lilies. Standing undecided for all of a millisecond, I grabbed a packet, gave it a quick squeeze to ensure firm bulbs lay within, and before I could create a biohazard, they were in my shopping trolley. I must admit I was all of a flutter. It was meant to be. All things do come to those who wait. She had better be as good as I have been dreaming.